MotoGP Americans… 3 of 5 fastest at Sepang
American riders Nicky Hayden, Colin Edwards and Ben Spies seized three of the top five spots in a MotoGP test Feb. 25-26 at the Sepang Circuit near Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia. Eighteen riders tested to prepare for the 2010 season, which includes the Red Bull Indianapolis GP on Sunday, Aug. 29 at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway.
2008 Red Bull Indianapolis GP winner Valentino Rossi led with a top lap of 2:00.271 on his Fiat Yamaha at the 15-turn, 3.447-mile Sepang track. 2007 World Champion Casey Stoner was second overall at 2:00.512 on his Ducati.
2006 World Champion Hayden, from Owensboro, Ky., was third at 2:00.703 on his Ducati. Edwards, from Houston, was fourth at 2:00.988, while his Monster Yamaha Tech 3 teammate and fellow Texan Spies, from Longview, Texas, was fifth at 2:01.014.
Hayden’s strong showing came after a sluggish first day of testing in which he was only 11th overall. Hayden admitted Feb. 25 that he took it easy on the first day, as he is recovering from recent arm surgery.
"I am obviously really happy because the changes we made yesterday afternoon that enabled me to go a couple of tenths faster despite the heat have proved to work even better today with the track in improved condition," Hayden said. "After making small steps for the last few test sessions, today we have finally taken a big leap forward, and I was able to ride fast. The arm wasn’t too bad but it still isn’t as strong as before, which I can feel more than anything in the hard braking, and it was hard work today. Anyway, I am recovering well, and now we move on from Sepang feeling really happy."
Edwards focused on improving the electronics on his Yamaha and also helping his teammate and friend, rookie Spies, adjust to MotoGP machinery. It was a refreshing change from 2009, when Edwards and teammate James Toseland rarely worked together due to an acrimonious crew chief swap orchestrated by Toseland during the offseason.
"I did 35 laps and all of them were productive, and I’m leaving this test really happy," Edwards said. "We did full race distance on it in the middle of the day when it was really hot and I was still doing 2:02’s on the last lap. I feel ready to race right now.
"I want to thank my guys at Monster Yamaha Tech 3 again for all their hard work and congratulate Ben, too. This is a tough track to learn. But he’s doing a great job, and he is impressing a lot of people. We’re working really closely together, and that is going to be great to help the team have another great year."
2009 Superbike World Champion Spies continued his nearly seamless transition into the premier category of worldwide motorcycle racing at Sepang. He worked both days on adapting his riding style to MotoGP machinery on worn tires, preparing for race conditions.
"It has been a positive test for me again because I have been able to improve my lap time by quite a bit," Spies said. "I’m 0.8 seconds quicker than yesterday, so that is a good step in the right direction. I did a race simulation and all my laps were in the 2:01’s."
The final preseason test is March 17-19 at the Losail Circuit in Qatar, where the 2010 MotoGP season opens April 11 with the Grand Prix of Qatar.